faux, faux, faux…Bacon? (Vegan Bacon)

Gooooood Morning My Food Lovers! πŸ™‚

If you would’ve told me 30 years ago that I’d be writing about fake bacon, I might have laughed in your face. Granted I was a young child, but sitting here now I could see my past self walking up to my Mother asking why would anyone want fake bacon when real bacon is delicious! πŸ™‚

And she would reply with her motherly ways and answers, that not everyone wants to eat bacon. Be it because of their diet, spiritual beliefs and anything in between the choice is theirs. She would then go on to explain why she did not eat it (she’s been plant-based since before we met) and end our conversation with a kind gesture reminding me that I was welcomed to enjoy it. I would listen intently, keeping this fascinating information and ways to respect other people’s food choices tucked away for future use. ❀

Fast forward to today. Actually, 5 days ago. I was in the lab (kitchen) thinking about what I wanted to eat. Some days I can piece together a food outfit rather quickly, other days I snack on dehydrated fruits and water for hours while planning a month’s worth of meals and recipes based off my cravings. I’m wildly fascinated with food psychology, diets, food science, what people eat and why. I’m not allergic to anything and feel perfectly fine eating meat, so I do. However, about 4 years ago I decided to be more mindful with food research, fixing my mind to become “vegan with a side of meat.” It’s not meant to offend anyone, but rather help me while cooking to keep all types of food lovers in mind while creating meals. Everyone’s food journeys are different and some people do have food allergies, so it’s just easier on my brain to cook from my family and clients perspectives. Plus I love a good food challenge and party πŸ™‚

ANY WAY, for the past 5 months I’ve been close to 75% plant-based and 25% everythang else. I have thoroughly enjoyed every meal and the conversations connected to the new dishes people have introduced to me. So when I was thinking about what I wanted to eat, everything was plant-based approved, except for one item.

Bacon.Β 

I’m not gonna lie, had it been any other day I would have topped my black bean burger with a slice of the best bacon. Alas, it just so happens to be one of my mom’s favorite burger and as I told her about what seasonings would go on this faux bacon, she encouraged me to give it a go. She spoke the beautiful words, “I would try it.”

BOOM. Music to my culinary ears! πŸ™‚

Y’all. This bacon made me so happy. It’s got that yummy smoky flavor and made with simple ingredients. The strips are made with rice paper, allowing the chance to achieve the level of chewiness or crispness you want. How do I know? Well, because I made roughly 50 pieces in one night! I was so inspired by the first batch, I tried all different combinations and sizes. I even made a bacon bowl, wrapped a few strips around asparagus and tried my hand at a bacon-shaped skateboard. (Don’t ask.) In case you were wondering, my Mother approved it, as well as two bacon-loving skeptics. #Score! I’m most excited about the new opportunities this brings to our table, and hope it does the same for you! I welcome you to try this recipe. Let me know what you think; we food lovers have to stick together πŸ™‚

Food Lovers Unite,

❀ The Smitten Chef ❀

Rice Paper Bacon (Vegan)

Prep Time: 20 minutesΒ  Cook Time: 7-10 minutesΒ  Total Time: 27-30 minutes

Yield: 24-30 pieces

Ingredients
  • 8-10 sheets of rice paper
  • 2Β tablespoonsΒ olive oil
  • 3Β tablespoonsΒ soy sauceΒ or tamariΒ 
  • 2Β tablespoonsΒ nutritional yeast
  • 1/2Β teaspoonΒ liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • an enjoyable pinch of cracked black pepper (ground pepper works perfectly too!)
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • 1/2Β tablespoonΒ maple syrup (optional, but the sweetness helps to round out the flavors)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk together all of the ingredients except for the rice papers in a wide bowl until the nutritional yeast is mixed well. This will be your marinade.
  3. Fill a second bowl halfway with water.
  4. Line a baking sheet with one layer of parchment paper. (If you have multiple baking sheets, you can line them all and cook the bacon all at once!)Β  πŸ™‚
  5. Carefully cut rice paper into thick strips, or into the size that you want. (The strips will shrink in size a little bit when cooking.)
  6. Take two strips and stack them. Holding them together, dip them very quickly into the water.
  7. Dip the pair of rice paper strips into the marinade and coat it fairly generously; place it onto the parchment paper.
  8. Repeat with additional rice paper and rice paper strips until the baking sheet(s) are filled.
  9. Over time, the oil might start to separate; if that happens simply whisk the marinade again to emulsify.
  10. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until crisp. The strips can burn easily, so stay close and rotate the baking sheets halfway while checking on them. The bacon will be crispy with some chewy spots. ❀
  11. Devour!
  12. Store leftover bacon in an airtight container for up to 3 days…if it lasts that long! πŸ˜‰

What we have had made with this bacon: Bacon bites, asparagus wrapped bacon, bacon wrapped mushrooms, taco bowls, loaded baked potatoes and as a topping on salads, chili, and pasta. #NomNom ❀

Below are all the pictures of this exciting food adventure. You can see how quickly things escalated once I made the first batch, hahaha!

Bacon Picture Collage number 1 of 4Bacon Picture Collage number 2 of 4Bacon Picture Collage number 3 of 4Bacon Picture Collage Number 4 of 4

Happy Food Trails!

DIY: Seaweed and Clay Face Mask

Hey Friends!

How are you doing…and FEELING?! As the colder weather sets in, so does the sniffling, sneezing and stuffiness. Least for me it has. Hmfp. There is good news though, and that is this mask I’m about to share with you. The first time I ever tried it was in September when I had a bite on my leg that came out of nowhere swell up a little bit past the size of a quarter and freak me out. I recalled seeing a family friend use seaweed on her neck to calm down swelling, so I figured it was a good time to try it. The bite shrunk down immediately and was gone by the next day! I used the rest of the mask on my face and have been using it ever since; whenever I have super oily skin, pimples, or as a preventative measure every 2-3 weeks.

I LOVE IT. Especially as it becomes more versatile, for today it helped me with my cold!

It brought down the swelling in my neck, took away the heat and pressure from behind my ears and also cleaned my face. I thought about waiting to blog about it…then I thought again. Colds suck… and so long as you’re not allergic to any of the items, I figure it’s worth posting if somebody is looking for a natural remedy. πŸ™‚

Seaweed and Clay Mask:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Seaweed powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of Bentonite Clay
  • 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, plus a little bit of water as needed.
  • 5-7 drops of sweet almond oil
  • 2 drops of Frankincense essential oil (optional)
  • 2 drops of Myrrh essential oil (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.
  2. Mix ingredients together well until a pudding-like consistency occurs. (If you need more liquids, I use water after adding the ACVinegar.)
  3. Place the mask on face & neck avoiding the eye area and leave on for 15-20 minutes. (I leave mine on until it completely dries; sometimes that takes 30 minutes.)
  4. With warm cloth, gently wipe mask off the face.

Tah Dahhhhhh, #MaskOff

Seaweed and Clay Mask 2018 Blog

In case you’re wondering what it looks like when whipped together!

That’s it! A bit of caution, the longer it stays on your face the more solid the mask will become. So when it comes time to take it off, do not peel it. It’s painful! LOL And yes, you can substitute the entire amount of liquid with water if you don’t want the vinegar on your face. πŸ™‚

To Wellness,

❀ The Smitten Chef ❀ 

 

 

 

Inner Light: 60 Minutes of Good Intentions

My family and I went to celebrate my brother today. His birthday was last week. On our way, I noticed just how much green I was seeing. The trees, a really cute peacoat, spinach wraps and everything I was wearing. When I got back home my diffuser light was also green. Okay, okay. Let me check this out. The first book I picked up was connected to chakras. The corresponding color to green is the heart chakra. A piece that really spoke to me had to do with getting back on track. By way of following the heart and wisdom connected to its power. It inspired me to be extremely intentional with the next 60 mins of my time. I had just so happened to also be reading food labels, and close by there was a recipe for which I knew we had all the ingredients.

I decided my next 60 minutes would be to set up for the recipe AND to let whatever else happen or flow, while in the kitchen.Β  The recipe calls for the farro to be soaked, so I already knew I’d have a full 58 minutes left to play. πŸ™‚

*By the way, the recipe is for a type of grain called farro. A twist on the rice-based risotto. It’s the recipe on the back of the Bob’s Mill Brand. I love when I have all the ingredients on hand after I read a recipe that sounds good. πŸ™‚ *

What happened in that hour? I’m so glad you asked!

Garlic got roasted. In two different fashions; 22 grams of the clove was kept whole with all of the peels removed. The other 11 grams kept one layer of the peel on. Each bulb was separate. The oven was set to 400 degrees Farenheight. I wrapped both types of garlic in some foil with the same amount of olive oil drizzled over and rubbed into the cloves. They went into the oven until I felt the need to take them out. The purpose of all of this is to test the flavors of the garlic when done. I want to know if there’s a difference in taste with the skin on or off.

Hey, if I gotta roast garlic anyway, I might as well make it fun and into an experiment, right? It’s half the reason I love cooking! πŸ™‚

After that was done, I cut up some onions and washed the mushrooms off. I made more than enough because while all of this is happening, I was getting hungry. I ended up sauteeing a little mushroom, onion, and garlic over some butter noodle pasta. Add your favorite shredded cheese and BOOM: quick fast meal and a treat for prepping your food. I give thanks.

Check the clock, got 25 minutes left. As soon as the noodles are ready, the fragrance from the garlic popped out. The mushrooms sizzled loudly. The water was running. The kitchen was singing! Thus begins the happy dance of winding down, cleaning up and preparing to eat. With 5 minutes left before the 60 minutes is up I am back in my chair ready to eat some noodles and think about what to write in this blog. πŸ™‚

I share this story to discuss just how powerful being intentional is. Having a decided heart can take you far, even within a short period of time. That 60 minutes may not sound like anything special to anybody else, but for me, it was everything I needed. That one hour solved a lot of those “I’ve been meaning to do that,” kind of expressions and feelings, in the two best ways I interpret things: food and words. I had fun and I also learned a lot. My kinda party!Β  πŸ™‚

And to be able to return to love is what the whole lesson was about. I’ll certainly take it! πŸ™‚ May we all learn to continuously cherish and respect all of the minutes’ Life shares with us. Feel free to leave a little space in your heart for miracles to seep in. ❀

Be Well,

❀ The Smitten Chef ❀

Ah yes, I managed to take two pictures before my phone powered down. I’ll upload the final product later!

 

 

Happy November!

Good Afternoon My Food Lovers!

Sending you and your families a whole lot of peace and love this first day of November; may it continue throughout the month. We’ve got a lot of goodness going on this month, three of my favorite things including:

  • Food (Quick, filling recipes to be precise!)
  • Travel Tales (Guess where?)
  • Inspirational Gems (Because who turns their noses to a dose of happiness?)

It’s a special month, as it marks 6 years being in the blogging business. I give thanks and look forward to connecting with you and yours! I’d love to know what you’ve got cooking up in your world. πŸ™‚ Until then, EXPECT MIRACLES and PREPARE TO RECEIVE THEM! ❀

Warmly,

The Smitten Chef ❀

IMG_0665

When All Else Fails, Begin Again!

Hey, My Food Lovers!

It’s been a long time since I have written a blog on here. Two years to be precise. I just wanted to stop in and say HELLO. I’d certainly love to hear about how you and your loved ones have been doing, so comment away!!! πŸ™‚

I have been a little bit of everywhere. ❀ What was once confusion has circled back to full on knowing and continuous becoming. All is well again and while in the process of bringing everything back together and closing gaps, I re-member to drop in and speak up. Make some noise. Ruffle some feathers. Close some accounts. Blend a few. My point is to say thank you for sticking with me and remaining in my world. It means so much to me. I’ve learned so much over the past two years and so I will leave you with the most recent message:

Expect Miracles and PREPARE to Receive Them!

I have also learned that when gifted with understanding life cycles and growth, the most important thing we can do is give thanks for all that has been thrown our way, discard what no fits or harmonizes, and continue cycling. What is for you will be, what is not will flee.

So…who’s ready to unite, Smitten Chef Style? ❀

*Tell me what your food, wellness and lifestyles desires are and I’ll do what I can to assist.* Be well friends!

Chasing Butterflies,

The Smitten Chef ❀

IMG_9340 Iceland Road Leading To 2016

The road less traveled is far more scenic in my opinion.Β 

It’s Getting Late October…Welcome November!Β 

Good Evening Sweets, 

As the month of October ends & I hide from trick-or-treaters, I come to write you. You know, to wish you a Happy Birthday…month. 😊 

Surely you didn’t think I forgot about you? Of course not. No, I decided at the end of September to celebrate you and your birthday all month long & call The Awesomes on your actual birthday. As celebration, I wanted to send daily inspiration out into the world on my Instagram page because it sounded like a good idea. Plus it caused me to get up and look for the good. The beautiful. You know, you. Last October seemed to last 90 days so I figured I would combat that feeling with feel-GOODS; early morning thoughts that welcomed October. I knew one of the days I would comfortably write you an open letter- and with every lesson I quickly learned it would be the last day so I could tell you in full all the FunFacts this months dedication brought this way. 

1. Everything really IS everything. It is not my job to make anyone believe it. However, since I believe and see it, it is my job to show people how and why I do. 

2. I have had three men under the age of 40 ask me to slow dance with them. I know it’s not magic, but it did leave me hopeful. 

3. Remember when we lived in the Philippines how we would all chase butterflies and try to touch them? I always thought it would be so cool to touch a butterfly again as an adult. I realize just how fragile they are and I always said I would be more gentle with them the next chance I got. 

4. I have written two books since your last birthday. Just like you told me to do! 😊 

5. Team USA won 3 gold medals in the “Culinary Olympics” this month! Go team goooooo!

6. The word of the day on your birthday was ‘vulnerary,’ the meaning used for or useful in healing wounds. I’m not even sure how to properly use that word in a sentence, so let me tell you what vulnerary technique I’ve been using this month: RELEASING things. (Hope that worked! Hahaha) 

7. What IF…?! I now see why you keep shouting at me to keep writing. You’re funny. 

8. The most important lesson I have learned this month is the beauty of letting go. People, places & things. One main thing is letting go of the notion of having to be anything that I am NOT. I found it to be debilitating and a different form of a lie. Everyday I would write down and release what I was “not,” then replace it afterwards with what I am. It is a pretty healthy exercise and I think I will keep it in my diet! 😊

9. There is a bit of sadness that rustles through these blogs, at least to me. Perhaps not sadness, just something I cannot pinpoint. It needs changing though. I have been looking  over the entries for a while now trying to figure out where I want to go, what direction to take. I am thankful to have spoken to other peoples’ hearts, but overall I feel these lessons have come right back into my pots. Time to wash the dishes and set a new table. I will always keep our love for writing in the forefront. πŸ’œ

Soooooooo, you know how I waited until the end of the month to write you? Well, it was also because I hadn’t seen or heard from you in a while…I kinda thought you forgot about me. Yes, I know, for those who love with their heart and soul there is no such thing as separation…but I miss you, and you said you would never leave my side. Not even for one second. I’m out here telling the world to Expect Miracles and somedays I don’t even damn believe them for mySelf. I had a friend ask me three days ago if I “REALLY believed” in affirmations. That caused me to go back over all my posts from October! Not only did it remind me to practice what I preached, it allowed me the opportunity to see that all this time I have been writing to you. In every post. I dusted mySelf off and asked to be shown something beautiful, with the hope that it would greet me before the month ended. Yesterday I went somewhere I had not been in a long time. I also invited someone to join me which doesn’t ever happen; but it was a small bite out of being uncomfortable because I thought they might find it peaceful. I declared I would see a butterfly. Not only did one fly over us, but on the way out I saw it again later. Upclose and personal…and I got to TOUCH IT! Just like we used to do. Just like you, always listening. 😍 Selfish of me to think You would remain in the same places now that you have the ability to fly. Silly of me to think you wouldn’t figure out a way to make me uncomfortable, while still keeping me focused. I’ll just have to chase YOU! ❀️

Happy Birthday Sweets! I pray you found peace in every day. Thank you. 

Cry Out With Your Whole Heart,

The Smitten Chef βœ¨πŸ€—βœ¨ 


Look at you, lookin’ all pretty and $hit. πŸ’œ


Travel Tales: Savannah, Georgia.Β 

…I have been learning to trust those middle of the night “wake me ups.” Yesterday, I woke up to a bird chirping a song I heard before. Not sure if “before” meant five days ago, or five minutes ago; for the song was also in my dreams. Tonight, I popped up out of my sleep again. Only this time to the tune of crickets. Normally I would go back to bed but I noticed both nights shared more than a song…I woke up at the same time. Only one question left to ask. What is on my mind?

Savannah, Georgia is on my mind. Weekend getaways. Family fun. Miracles. As much as  I love to travel, my mode of transportation preference is by air. The older I get, I conclude it is connected to my excitement and my patience level. GET ME THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: I want to explore! I already live in Georgia and Savannah is about 4 hours away from start to finish…I have spent half that time getting through security at the airport. Road trip it is. πŸ™‚ 

We left on a Saturday afternoon. There was only one goal: to see my niece. She was on a field trip and we went to support her. We arrived with four hours to spare before her arrival time, leaving us with the perfect amount of time to check in, eat and explore the city. Joy!

My mom picked the perfect location: the riverfront. Not only did this make for gorgeous views in a historic setting, but we both love walking and were close enough to everything to tool around town until our feet said “no more.” We have rules to eating when traveling, and that is to try our best to dine somewhere new and/or at a restaurant we can’t find at home. Don’t get me wrong I love seeing businesses in multiple locations, but as a food lover, half of my reason to travel is to experience all the food this world has to offer! 

We chose a place called Savannah Taphouse. Formerly home to the Avon Theater located on Broughton Street the owners turned into an upscale sports bar. “Bringing Hoppiness to Savannah,” their take away menu reads. The atmosphere is relaxed and comforting. When you walk in, there’s a bar to the left and table seating is available on two floors. We opted to eat upstairs, which was nice because we got to see everything! It was a Saturday night, right around 7:00 pm and we beat the night crowd but still got to enjoy the restaurant while it was full of hustle and bustle. There are 30 tv’s inside (including 6 80″ screens!) and 40 taps and over 100 bottled beers available. We weren’t there for either of those reasons, but I found it pretty cool to be able to come back specifically to sample beers and talk sports. I also liked that my mom and I were there to enjoy one another’s company and were able to have a conversation over 30 tv’s without feeling like we had to scream at each other. Score! 

What brought us to the restaurant was our salad craving. After walking a few blocks around the city, we came back to the taphouse because you can build your own salad. You choose your salad base (romaine or mixed greens) then select 5 toppings. There had to be about 30 items! You could add meat or more toppings for an additional price, ranging from grilled chicken to blackened Mahi. Then you can top it with one of their house made dressings. My mom had mixed greens, with broccoli, black beans, tomatoes, roasted peppers and corn…I had a side salad with the Peppercorn Parmesan dressing and nachos with chicken on top. We also had spinach artichoke dip, that came with pita chips sprinkled with cracked black pepper and salt. Fresh. Hot. Huge portions. Creamy dressings. Lots of cheese on my nachos. Friendly staff & prompt service. Delightful. I’ll be back for sure, and have already decided I’m having the Santa Fe Burger with a beer. πŸ™‚

I had already devoured the dip and dug into my Mom’s salad before remembering I had a camera on deck from sightseeing. Below was my meal. The nachos are bigger than my face and make for a great appetizer that can actually be shared. I know I needed help. 


After we ate, we had good intentions of walking a few blocks. The streets were full of people! The buildings lit up! The air was filled with lovely humidity that reminds you that you are in the south, but not quite as sticky as my last visit- for my curls stayed. The horse and carriage rides added a sweet charm to the city, as did the excitement from the couples walking past us. I could feel the breeze from the river and smell the food from all the restaurants on the way back to the hotel. The city of Savannah had opened its arms and welcomed us. Helllloooo Summertime. ❀

Hello comfortable bed with covers so fluffy, I melted into them. Needed to rest up for whatever the next day with my niece would bring. 

Sunday started at 6:45 am…breakfast in the hotel. Buffet style, omelettes & waffles cooked to order. I ate everything but the two, but if given enough time I would have. πŸ™‚ Fresh fruits, sausages, French toast, grits, potatoes, yogurt and more grits graced my plates. My mother had her fruits and a nice bowl of oatmeal with fixins’. I had not done my usual hotel tour the day before (where I roam the hotel and plan how make use of all the amenities) so I did not know this view would be joining us for breakfast! 


Mid afternoon found us at Old Ft. Jackson. It was about ten minutes from the hotel and another 10-13 minutes if we wanted to make our way on over to Tybee Island. We grabbed some snacks and stayed on the fort. It was a beautiful day, and I was able to capture a history lesson and a few pictures while there before my niece and her crew arrived! When they came, we joined them for a different tour of the fort and learned about the history of the Girl Scouts. I was impressed and the girls were happy. The tour ended with a canon being fired. Neat-O.


After the tour, we all went to eat at a restaurant called The Pirates’ House. This building has quite a bit of history to it, dating all the way back to 1733. It was here that Trustees Garden (the first experimental garden in America) was located. In 2016, it is here you can dine on southern specialties while enjoying an atmosphere that has been preserved to reflect its past. A few of the crew can be found dressed as pirates and there is a nice sized gift shop upstairs totally worth checking out. My niece had a ball up there!

Since we dined as a large party, we were in a private room and the food was served buffet style. Fried chicken tenders, grilled salmon, salad and sides such as mac’n’cheese, green beans and corn was served. Mom and I ordered off of the main menu and without discussion, ordered the same meal: crab cakes with a remoulade sauce and a strawberry spinach salad topped with candied pecans, goat cheese and a light vinaigrette dressing. Very good. 

The restaurant is walking distance to the river, so we all hung out sightseeing, laughing and souvenir shopping. My niece and her troopwere walking the river front for the views, but also in the direction of their hotel. Once we figured that out, mom and I stopped halfway and walked back to our car. The time had come to part ways and for us to head back home. What better way say goodbye than to have ice cream with my niece! (We were right in front of a candy store called Savannah’s Candy Kitchen.) Perfect. Both had sugar cones and two scoops of gelato. She had a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of lime…I had a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of mango. Since she skipped away waving, that ought to explain how good it was. πŸ™‚

I did take photos along the way, and will share a few below. Out of respect for my travel companions who don’t love the selfie movement the way I do, I save those shots for our scrap book. I am so thankful we got to share these moments together and my niece hugged me and asked, “Are you going to blog about this? If so, don’t forget to mention this gelato!” She knows me well.

A toast: to family, adventures and miracles. Oh and to the midnight jolts out of bed, reminding me to get up, Gooooo, write & repeat. ❀

The Smitten Chef